Summary And Analysis Of The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka

The novel “The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka illustrates a young man named Gregor Samsa who transforms into a beetle. In the beginning of the story, Gregor’s life consists of his job as a salesman and helping his family to pay off their debt. Gregor wakes up in the morning, confused about his transformation into a bug. Due to his Metamorphosis, Gregor is abandoned by his family, however, he maintains his relationship with his sister Grete. His family avoids him because of his appearance, and they do not accept him for who he was.

Over the course of the story, Gregor learns to live with himself as a bug but also feels like he was isolated from his family that he provided for. Meanwhile, Gregor woke up in the morning, and he notices that he was in his room but felt different. Gregor woke up in the morning ready for his normal day, such as going to work to sell his fabrics to help his family pay off their debts. After his Metamorphosis, Gregor had quickly accepted his change which did not make him upset about his situation. “One morning, upon awakening up from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed transformed into a monstrous vermin. ” (Kafka 1156). Gregor was a victim of his metamorphosis, but he was okay with his change and did not realize how it could affect him emotionally, in the long run, and how it would lead him into feeling isolated and alienated from his family. For instance, as a traveling salesman, Gregor often feels alienated because he has no time for family and nor does he have time for any friendships.

When Gregor was not going to work, he was unable to receive the same gratitude from his family compared to when he was working and received more love and gratitude. His mother invited his manager over to help him get up in the morning so he could work and make money to help his family pay off his debt. Gregor begins to feel depressed because of the way his family treats him after his metamorphosis. His family no longer appreciated his contributions to the family which he once enjoyed. “Just don’t stay in bed being useless,” Gregor said to himself (Kafka 1159). Since Gregor could no longer provide for his family, he began to become closer to his sister. Gregor tries to get out of the bed and make something of himself to feel appreciated by his family again. His new body has prevented him from doing simple tasks, such as working or even being able to get dressed. Without him realizing the consequences of being a bug, he begins to feel depressed and hopeless with himself. For most, Gregor’s family was struggling with his transformation.

Since his transition, Gregor could no longer speak or be who he used to be. Besides his parents who abandoned him, his sister Grete begins to convince her parents to accept Gregor for who he is as a person. Grete advises their parents that Gregor is gone, and he is a bug but should still be treated like a human. Grete was willing to help him adjust to his transformation by doing little things to make sure Gregor was comfortable with himself. His mother believed that Gregor would eventually return back to his normal self and hoped he would go back to work to help provide for his family. The mother cries, “‘Help, for God's sake, help!’ [with her] head bent as if to see Gregor better” (Kafka 1166). His family wanted him to get better, but they were not really doing anything effective to help him. They treated him like he no longer existed anymore; an example would be when his family began to use his room as storage. Gregor began to feel like he was a burden to his family since he was no longer a source of income.

Gregor had lost his value to his family as their provider. For instance, Gregor can no longer provide for his family since his metamorphosis. His sister took on her responsibilities such as taking care of the family's financial needs and also taking care of Gregor. Grete helped Gregor out by being there for him emotionally and physically when his parents were not. After Grete went through her own metamorphosis, she began to feel some sort of empowerment. She no longer needs support from her parents anymore who were willing to help out. In Gregor’s case, no one wanted to help him take care of the family’s responsibilities. She went from taking care of Gregor and helping him with all his needs to not caring for him at all. She began to take on all of Gregor's responsibilities, and she did not want her mother to get involved to help her out with anything. As time went on, she sided with her family to get rid of Gregor so she can be free from Gregor being an overburden.

Kafka writes “But even if his sister, exhausted from working at the store, had gotten fed up with taking care of Gregor as she used to” (1183). Grete has forgotten about Gregor and protecting him and his emotions. Furthermore, Gregor’s father did not accept his transformation as a bug. Gregor’s father was just as unfriendly and overbearing as he was before the transformation. He expected more from Gregor such as working and paying off the debts for his store that failed. Gregor’s father did not really care for him before and especially not now after his metamorphosis. Since his metamorphosis, the morning involved waking up to his father still discussing the family’s debts and not taking note of Gregor’s metamorphosis Gregor’s father only cared for Gregor when he was working as a salesman to help provide for his family. The father has given up on working to help pay off the family’s debt. For example, in “The Metamorphosis,” the father uses a newspaper to shoo Gregor back into the other room.

As a big bug, he was too big to fit through the doorway. Despite the father’s cruelty, Gregor feels obligated to help his father recover from his failed business. However, Gregor’s father never expresses gratitude towards his son for helping out with the family’s problems. Since Gregor has been starving himself, his father takes an apple and throws it at him. “One apple, thrown weakly, grazed Gregor’s back and slid off harmlessly. But the very next one that came flying after it literally forced its way into Gregor’s back” (Kafka 1179). He was weak and started to lose his vision. Grete began to embrace her father, and Gregor began to suffer from his pain. He was slowly dying, but still, his family mistreated him. As Gregor remained wounded, his family began to not treat him well causing him to feel isolated. Likewise, Gregor sister feels no remorse for Gregor after he was hit with the apple by their father. “Come over here for a minute, you old dung beetle,” or “ Look at that old dung beetle” (Kafka 1182).

Whenever Grete was upset, she would bother Gregor for not doing anything the whole entire day. He continues to ignore and sit in the room, while his family treated him really poorly before he died. The relationship they once had has diminished after her metamorphosis. She continues to betray Gregor by not taking care of him anymore. Grete was the only person who really helped him accepted and loved him for who he is as a beetle. Grete helped Gregor finally find his self-discovery with himself and helped accept himself since his transformation. Emrich writes“In this way, by abandoned its human existence and becoming an animal, the “self” gains superiority over bodies and things” (115). There is a sense of superiority from Gregor’s family which makes him feel inferior because of the way his family has been treating him. Additionally, after Gregor’s death, his family did not bother with his corpse. His death did not matter to his family remembers as they continue with their normal day.

The mother asks the cleaning lady if Gregor has passed. The cleaning lady pushes Gregor’s dead corpse to see whether Gregor is alive or not. The cleaning lady speaks “I’ll say, said the cleaning woman, and to prove it she pushed Gregor's corpse with her boom a good distance sideways (Kafka 1190). Gregor’s parents had rejoiced his death “Now we can thank God” (Kafka 1190). While Grete reminisces her brother and how small be has become from starving himself until his death. The parents had breakfast but on the other hand, Grete looks back at the house lady who will dispose of Gregor’s corpse. Gregor passing has lifted the weight on his sister's shoulders who tried took care of him after his transition. Not only relieving the weight off her sister's shoulders but the parents shoulder too. Gregor learns to live with himself as a bug and he feels isolated from his family that he once provided for. After Gregor’s metamorphosis, his parents abandoned him but his sister became his a friend and his caretaker. Over the course of time, Grete advises her parents that Gregor is not with them anymore and that Gregor is now a bug. Shortly after her metamorphosis, Grete changed from a girl to a woman and began to take over to help pay off the family’s debts. Gregor father was an unkind man, who did not care for Gregor as a beetle.

For example, he uses the newspaper to shoo Gregor into his small doorway which is a symbol of how isolated his family made him feel. After his death, his family continued to live their lives free from the burden that Gregor had felt behind with him. Throughout the story, the readers learned that Gregor’s isolation has been the reason behind his transformation. Gregor was fine with himself but his own family were not fine with his transformation and had done nothing to help him get through his change from a human into a beetle.

10 December 2020
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